March 23, 2006

My post yesterday, “The Quiet Revolution”, discussed some of the positive ways in which atheists are organizing and making inroads into society. But as much as I hate to follow up good news with bad, I feel I would be doing my readers a disservice if I played down the magnitude of what we atheists must confront and overcome if we are ever to become a fully accepted part of society. With that in mind, I call to your attention… Read more

March 22, 2006

In a previous post in the Garden, “An Inspiring Story”, I discussed two ways in which atheism might make inroads into society: It is not inconceivable that atheists are nearing a critical mass, one which when reached will inspire us to organize en masse. If such a thing were to happen, I have no doubt that we could become a tremendous force for societal change for the better. But even if not, there is another possibility: we may gain acceptance… Read more

March 20, 2006

It is a perennial question, among atheists, of whether we should evangelize in favor of atheism the way the religious do. It is not hard to see why this question has been so hotly debated, since there are good arguments on both sides. Since atheism is a positive worldview, there would seem to be a reason we should bring it to others. Deconversion is almost always described, by those who have gone through it, as an ultimately joyous experience. There… Read more

March 18, 2006

It was in late December of last year that I visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City for the first time. It was a cold, wet evening, alternating between rain and flurries of snow, and a friend and I had gone downtown to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. But the cathedral was on the way, and we could not pass up the chance to see another Manhattan landmark. The change in the atmosphere was noticeable as soon… Read more

March 16, 2006

The recent fiasco over the cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper shows that free speech is still very much under threat. Though this basic human right has long been guaranteed in the Western world, this controversy should remind us that there is still a large section of humanity among whom free speech is not just nonexistent, it is held in outright disdain. Sadly, the right to speak one’s mind without fear of repercussion is still the exception, not… Read more

March 14, 2006

One of my favorite short-story authors is the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges. Many of his stories deal with mind-expanding themes, including “Blue Tigers”, about a handful of stones that do not obey the rules of mathematics, “The Book of Sand”, about a book with an infinite number of pages, and “The Aleph”, a point in space that allows one to observe all other points simultaneously. However, Borges’ most iconic short story is the one called “The Library of Babel”,… Read more

March 12, 2006

The United States of America is populated overwhelmingly by Christians. Poll after poll shows that between 75% and 85% of American citizens identify with some denomination of Christianity, and though this percentage has declined somewhat in recent years, it is still a great majority. It would be correct to say that the U.S. is, in fact if not in law, a Christian nation. However, there is reason to believe that this widespread commitment is neither as deep nor as substantial… Read more

March 10, 2006

Has anyone else ever noticed that, as far as theists are concerned, atheists just can’t win? Every single thing we do, or don’t do, is interpreted by believers in such a way as to give aid and comfort to their beliefs. Consider: When theists commit evil or criminal acts, it just goes to show that we’re all sinners and no one’s perfect, and an entire worldview should not be blamed for the actions of a few misguided individuals; but when… Read more

March 8, 2006

(Note: This post was written for Blog Against Sexism Day.) One of the greatest enemies of the feminist movement is and has always been religion. Regardless of when or how this tendency originated, the monotheistic tradition that gave rise to Judaism, Christianity and Islam has historically stood in vehement opposition to the simple and obvious truth that women are human beings with the same rights, abilities and privileges as men. Consider, for example, the flagrant and revolting sexism in one… Read more

March 7, 2006

The previous post in the Observatory, “On Presuppositions”, discussed a few of the many ways in which bias has been shown to affect our decisions. When we expect or believe something to be true, we very often act as if it is true, and disregard contradictory evidence. Given these undeniable facts, what hope is left for us to know the truth? A cynical interpretation would be that science, the organized quest for truth, has ironically proven that science is hopeless,… Read more

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